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The role of the child's attorney is unique in American jurisprudence and not yet clearly defined by law or tradition. There is an emerging consensus, however, that children in dependency cases should have lawyers and those lawyers should be as active and as involved in their cases as are lawyers for any other party in any other litigation. Although state law and policy makers differ as to what voice the child should have in determining the direction and goals of the litigation, that is, whether the child's lawyer should represent the best interests of the child as determined by the lawyer or be directed by the expressed wishes of the child after counsel by the lawyer, the difference in approach between these two competing views is narrowing. There is a strong agreement across America as to the assertive and zealous duties of the child's lawyer - no matter how the decision-making authority for the litigation goals is defined.


Reproduced with permission. Copyright 2016 National Association of Counsel for Children, all rights reserved. Originally published as Duquette, Donald N. and Anne. M Haralambie. "Representing Children and Youth." In Child Welfare Law and Practice: Representing Children, Parents, and State Agencies in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases, edited by Donald N/ Duquette, Anne M. Haralambie, and Vivek S Sankaran, 817-856. 3rd ed. Denver, CO: Bradford Publishing Co., 2016